Friday, August 7, 2009


Today my grandmother would have been 89. This is what I read at Nanny's funeral 2 and a half years ago.

It’s a word you hear a lot these days…. But how often do you come across someone who will truly leave a legacy? We are here today to honor and celebrate Muriel Mutts Ashley, someone who will undoubtedly leave a legacy. She has obviously touched many lives judging by the amount of people in this room. Most of you know the story: Brooklyn girl spends her summers out here in the country, meets Flanders boy, they fall in love, get married, start farming, have a beautiful family and live happily ever after. Sounds great, right? Nanny led a great life…she would tell you that, but it was not always an easy life. She met my wonderful grandfather, whom she loved so much and they got married and bought some land and built a house from nothing. Then they started a farm with some land and some turkeys and built it from nothing. They were a team in the true sense of the word. If something needed to be done for the good of the farm or the family then they did it. They were a team- an awesome team. Their little farm started to grow and they started their family. First was David, then Grandpa had to go off to serve in WW2. Nanny stayed home with an infant and a bunch of turkeys that had to be prepared. She often told the story of her and my Uncle Lawrence processing turkeys in her garage to get them ready for Thanksgiving. After Grandpa returned from serving in the Army, they had my dad, Larry, then Aunt Barbara and my Aunt Jan. The farm continued to grow as their family grew and things were going well. Life is full of unexpected events and sometimes tragedy, and my grandparents were not immune to tragedy. At the young age of 21, my Uncle David died following a motorcycle accident. The family mourned and took things day by day. Life went on and then the unthinkable happened. My Aunt Barbara died also at the age of 21 after a courageous battle with cancer. This of course took its toll on my grandparents but they kept on. My baby isn’t here yet, but I know how much I love this child already and I cannot fathom what it must be like to lose one child, let alone two. Something that has always impressed me about my grandparents is that losing two children like that would be something that a lot of people would use as an excuse to become bitter and hard, and they didn’t let that happen. They were obviously sad and missed them tremendously, but instead of the family falling apart or becoming distant, it became even closer.
And that is what I see as my grandmother’s legacy… her family. And that includes all of you. You see, we don’t have a very big family by blood, but we have a HUGE family of friends and that is because of my grandparents. Nanny loved people. She would strike up a conversation with anyone. We used to bust on her because she would go to the A&P and see at least 4 or 5 people that she knew there. She loved being in the market and talking to our customers as well. But the people that were most important to her were her family and friends. Many of them have gone before her and many of you are here today. She made friends from the Ladies Auxiliary, bowling, neighbors, Atlantic City trips, employees and numerous other places. Some of the names that come to mind immediately are Francie Lund, Marge McMurtrie, Betty Windt, June Varcoe, Valerie Cline, Vivian Lord, Judy Eckroth, and of course Marie Duryea. She had so many friends, that we would be here for hours listing them all and she loved all of them. Part of the way she loved her friends was with her unending hospitality. She was always ready to have a houseful in and she could make something from nothing. She would just throw something together. My dad often tells stories of her having a house full on Friday nights after bowling. Paul and Francie Lund would be there and Dad and Aunt Jan would stop in and hang out with them instead of going out with their friends. She loved having people over and she was a wonderful cook and baker. Some of our favorites were potato soup, beef stew, rice pudding, blueberry tea cake, and of course the world famous apple crisp. One of the hardest things for her in her later years was not being able to cook anymore. Even when she knew that she couldn’t cook or fix meals anymore, she would still ask when someone popped in, What can I get ya? She always made the best lunches too. Lunch was like an event at the farm. It was common for her to have 15 people in for lunch and there were loads of laughs. One day at lunch, someone commented that for good health, you should laugh at least 5-10 times a day and Val piped up and said that she gets that in just at lunch. That really summed it up. Lunches were full of laughs and stories. Right up until a few days before her death, we still ate lunch together, Scott and Dad and I and sometimes other people as well and it was a time that Nan still really enjoyed. She put a lot of love into her cooking and baking. When we were little, she would make homemade pies and we would make little pies with the leftover dough. I know that they were delicious, but what I will remember the most about those pies is spending time with her, laughing and getting flour all over the kitchen.
Getting back to family, though, that was what it was all about for my grandmother and grandfather. They were so proud of their family and what we had accomplished. My grandfather often said to my dad that he just loved the way that all of us grandchildren got along with each other. And we really did have fun at the farm. It was like our own private playground. Playing hide and seek, reading books, playing with the tub of plastic bricks and just getting into trouble outside are things that come to mind. Later on, we had a lot of great family dinners in the gazebo that Nanny loved so much. Nanny had a special relationship with both my dad and my aunt. Dad and Nanny played the lottery together for years and enjoyed trips to Atlantic City together. Nanny and Aunt Jan shared a love of gardening and doing that together was something that they both enjoyed. I can only hope that I do as good a job with my children as she did with them.
I’ve asked my family to share with me some memories to share with you. Aunt Jan wrote the following: My mom had a great capacity for making people feel welcome in her home. She had many friends, some younger than herself. She would always invite people to have lunch with us whether she had enough food or not. She always would make it stretch for however many people were there. She would generally tell you what was on her mind whether or not you wanted to hear it. She did not tolerate anyone whispering. She always said that if you had something to say, let everyone hear it. Mom was a very hard worker and she had a very good sense of humor. If you needed her, she would be there for you. She loved to go bowling and loved to travel with her bowling buddies. They would bowl in the Women’s National Bowling but I think it was a good excuse to go on vacation. I think my mom was ahead of her time as far as doing things on her own or with us kids. My dad was always busy with the farm so if we were to get away my mom would tell my sister and I to pack some clothes and we would head off to Canada by car or anywhere else she wanted to visit. In the 60s not many women would be that adventuresome without a man going, too. Mom was an honest person. Mom loved her family, kids and grandkids, always wanted to be around us. She loved Sunday morning breakfast or an impromptu dinner on the deck in the Summer.
Dad shared that when they were children, one thing that you did not want to be was late for dinner. Nan was serious about dinner time and she was going to have everyone there sitting down together for that meal. He also recalled that after Scott’s high school graduation, she and Dad went to Kiernan’s for dinner and she really just wanted to sit at the bar, so he and Nan sat at the bar and had dinner and reflected on how proud of Scott they were. We had a lot of Sunday dinners at Kiernan’s. We all enjoyed that. I miss that tremendously. Ellen recalled how much the golf cart was a big part of her life. You will notice that a lot of the pictures on the board are of Nan on her golf cart. All you would have to do was look for the golf cart and you would know where Nan was. And when her beloved dog, Pepper was alive, the dog was her #1 passenger. Talking about the golf cart leads me to one of Ashley’s favorite memories. She writes the following: my most vivid memory with Nanny was when I was about 10 or 11. As you all probably know, Nanny jilted around the farm and our house with her beloved golf carts. Well, Grandpa never wanted us to drive them before we were 15 or 16, understandably so, but Nanny would always let me drive around when Grandpa wasn’t on the farm. As we were slowly pulling up the her back porch, I accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake. Luckily, it was summertime and there was a huge flowerpot to cushion the crash, but that also meant that the mess had to be cleaned up before Grandpa got back and pretend that nothing happened. Nanny took it all in stride, though. I was visibly nervous and crying and instead of reprimanding me or saying something like “ I should have listened to Grandpa” she helped me clean everything up. I just remember being so scared of what Grandpa was going to say but Nanny just sat on the golf cart with her arm around me while I was crying. She said, Don’t worry about it kid, I’m not going to tell him, it could have happened to anyone. Sara remembers Nanny taking all 5 of us to Mastro’s Shoes in Bernardsville every Easter time and Back to School time to get new shoes. Sara also writes, when I was a young girl, Nanny would take us to church. On the way home, we could always count on Nanny bringing us to the bakery in Flanders. She would always let me pick one thing that I really wanted, which was always a crumb bun. Sara also remembers stopping in Nanny’s after school every day for a roll with butter. One of Lisa’s memories was of snacks at Nanny’s too. Every day after school during her elementary years, Lisa would stop at Nanny’s to eat scooter pies and cheese sandwiches and watch tv with Nanny. They would watch Murder She Wrote, MacGuyver, and Matlock. Lisa also recalled staying at Nan’s for one of her gambling nights. Her and some of her lady friends were playing poker and it was a funny night. Some of Scott and Chrisy’s best memories are grading tomatoes with Scott and Chrisy and the guys, coming up to see the baby turkeys when they first arrived, walking out in the tomato fields to see how the plants looked, watching everyone on the turkey processing line as they were doing their job, she sat in a chair and oversaw everything, we called her the foreman. Scott in particular remembers her going to all his hockey games. She never missed one in high school. The boys all called her the team grandma. She even had the whole team over for a spaghetti dinner one day. Chrisy in particular remembers Nan giving her cooking advice and how she would jump into conversations even when you didn’t think she was listening. One thing Chrisy remembers was a day that she was standing in the kitchen crying and Nan came in, looked at her and said, “Somethin to not be so happy about? She always had a way with words.
And as for me, well, I have so many I don’t even know where to start. She took me to Epsteins a lot. She loved Epsteins. Every year at Christmas time, the whole family including GranNan would pile into the van and go look at Christmas lights and then go shopping at Epsteins. Nanny instilled her love of reading in me and would often take me to the public library to take out books and then we would go to Carvel for ice cream. Nanny and Grandpa took me to Vermont with them for a trip to visit friends and that was a great time too. I felt like such a grown up being able to travel with Nanny and Grandpa. More recently, my memories have just revolved around knowing her as an adult. She would often talk about her great-grandchild that was on the way and give me advice, especially advice on names. Sometimes, we would just watch tv and chat, and that was enough. One memory that I will cherish was last Spring. Nanny had to have some sort of test at Newton Memorial Hospital and I was to take her. Nanny had been going through a rough time with the Alzheimer’s and there were more bad days than good days at that time, but that was a good day. It was a beautiful Spring day and as we drove to Newton, we had really nice conversation, we got to the hospital and she had her test and then we went shopping in the gift shop. She just kept commenting on how nice it was to go shopping somewhere different. Then on the way home, we stopped and got milkshakes and went back to the farm and just chatted. There was nothing that special about that day, but I remember telling my dad the next day that that day was like a gift. It was just me and her, but there was something special about that day. But that’s what it was like to be around Nanny. Just like her awesome food, she could make something out of nothing. She could take an ordinary day and make it fun. She was such a wonderful grandmother and she would have made a wonderful great grandmother and even though my child will not ever physically know her, the baby will know her through all of you. You are her legacy. Live your life like she did… open, hard working, with integrity, friendly and loving. We are all better people for knowing her. We are blessed. And as you mourn this loss, remember that she is know home in Heaven with her Saviour and has been reunited with her beloved Hubert, David and Barbara and all those friends and family members that went before her. Thank you all for coming. It means the world to us.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Will's First Trip to Church

We took Will to church for the first time this past Sunday. Here are a few pics of the boys ready to go!

The Playground!

We went to the playground this weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather. Had a great time!

Some new pictures of the boys

We have been adjusting to being a family of four. Things are going well and Ben really loves his little brother!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our New Addition

William David Myers was born on April 27th at 10:52 am. Will weighed 9 lbs, 6 oz and was 21 inches long. He is doing great!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ben's 2 Year Old Pics

We took Ben to have his 2 year pictures done about a month ago. He looks like such a big boy!

Ben's Birthday Party

I know I am behind on this, but here are some pictures from Ben's 2nd Birthday Party!